'Residency test' proposed for self-builders seeking council plots

People wishing to register for a self-build plot under the government's 'Right to Build' initiative would have to meet a 'local residency test', according to a consultation document.

Self build: government wants councils to provide sites
Self build: government wants councils to provide sites

The proposed Right to Build, first announced in this year’s Budget, would give people a right to a self-build plot from a local planning authority. Councils would be required to create a register of people who are looking for a plot to build a new home.

Last month, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced the names of 11 areas selected to take part in a pilot of the scheme.

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the consultation seeks views "from local planning authorities, the custom build sector and prospective custom builders themselves about the best way of constructing such a Right".

The document says that Right to Build should be seen as "an extension of best planning practice, and not as a new parallel planning regime".

It says that the government intends to give local authorities "the discretion to ask prospective custom builders to demonstrate a local connection to be eligible for registration".

"New custom build development should contribute to meeting local housing need as identified as part of the local planning process. As part of this we want to ensure authorities have the tools they need to manage demand effectively, for example in high demand areas such as national parks.

"This will ensure these areas are not overwhelmed, allowing the focus of the register to be on identifying and supporting local need".

The document says that land allocated for self-build homes under the policy should form "an integral part" of councils’ five-year housing land supplies, as required by national planning policy.

It says that there will be some authorities "with significant constraints on land supply for housing and these may face particular challenges in bringing forward land to meet all the demand expressed on the register through the local plan process".

The document says there will be occasions "when cross boundary working may achieve better outcomes for prospective custom builders; for instance, there is an important issue about how the Right would apply in area s of high demand and significant constraint on land supply, for example due to green belt and other protective designations".

In these circumstances the document proposes that the Right "remains with the authority where the prospective custom builder has the local connection".

However, the authority "might bring forward land from another authority in the housing market area to offer to people on the register and discharge their statutory responsibilities. The authority may need to be able to evidence both that it is constrained within its own area and that the alternative plots being provided are in a reasonable alternative location", it says.

According to the document, the government wishes to set out the legislative framework for the Right to Build register in Richard Bacon MP’s Self - Build and Custom Housebuilding Bill.

"This Bill will establish the broad framework for the register, with the secretary of state for the Department for Communities and Local Government having the power to make regulations and issue statutory guidance about its operation", it says.

The consultation says the existing the bill puts in place a provision for local planning authorities to "have regard" to the register when exercising their relevant functions.

But it adds: "We envisage that in the next Parliament the government may wish to go further and propose a new statutory requirement for local planning authorities to bring forward land to meet demand on the register where reasonable to do so".

The document says the government aims to legislate for the Right – through first the Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Private Members’ Bill and then legislation in the next Parliament – "taking into account the outcome of this consultation and the experience from the vanguards".

Right to Build: Supporting Custom and Self Build

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